Polytan

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Polytan GmbH is a German manufacturer of synthetic turf systems and synthetic sport surfaces. It is based in Burgheim, Bavaria.

As a supplier of numerous sports venues for international competitions and first-division clubs, it supplied the pitch for the final of the Women's Football World Cup 2015 at the BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, Canada [1] and the hockey pitch for the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games.[2] The hockey competitions of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games, which have been postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus, will be played on Polytan turf.

A number of German national league football clubs use Polytan pitches at their training centres, and the Stade de Suisse (National Stadium) in Bern, Switzerland, has a Polytan pitch. In athletics, numerous events are held on Polytan surfaces, including Diamond League competitions and the 2008 World Athletics Final at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Stuttgart, Germany.

Since 2018, with its Green Technology campaign, Polytan has increasingly focused on issues around sustainability. Examples of this include the use of green electricity for production and a CO2-neutral synthetic turf (LigaTurf Cross GTzero), which is made from renewable raw materials and was introduced in 2020 (the first pitches were completed in Ahrensfelde (Brandenburg) and Duisburg.[3]

Company history[edit]

Today's Polytan company was founded in 1969 as Firl + Schretter Sportstättenbau in Neuburg an der Donau. Initially, the company focused on the installation of polyurethane-bound in-situ synthetic surfaces for sports facilities. Polytan was registered as a trademark the same year. Today, the Polytan range includes high-speed tracks, all-weather courts, tennis and handball courts and shock-absorbent surfaces, as well as synthetic turf systems for football, hockey and rugby, and multifunctional playing fields. Polytan GmbH operates worldwide and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sport Group Holding.

Polytan began producing raw materials for synthetic surfaces in 1975.[4]

In 1995, Polytan expanded its product portfolio to include synthetic turf systems and acquired a production facility for synthetic turf and polyurethane in Grefrath (North Rhine-Westfalia ).[5]

Since 2003, Polytan has achieved full vertical production of synthetic turf systems (from production of raw materials to on-site installation). For this purpose, a complete coating and extrusion plant for synthetic turf was installed at the production facility in Grefrath.[6]

In 2003, the company became a licensee in the FIFA Quality Programme for Football Turf and, that same year, installed the first FIFA-recommended two-star-certified synthetic turf pitch.[7]

As part of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, the German Football Federation (DFB) built 1000 mini playing fields with synthetic turf for a youth development project and chose Polytan as its partner. The mini playing fields have remained an important part of the business and Polytan has since built over 2000 such fields.

From 2007 to 2009, the company expanded, acquiring production and installation companies in Australia, Germany, France, Sweden and the USA.[8]

In 2011, Polytan became a FIFA Preferred Producer in the Polytan|STI brand group with the acquired installation company STI (Sports Technology International). This was followed in 2012 by licensing as a Preferred Pitch Producer of the International Rugby Board (now World Rugby) and Preferred Supplier of the International Hockey Federation. Polytan supplied the hockey pitches of the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games.[9] Polytan acquired Team Sports, one of Australia's leading providers of sports and leisure facilities, in 2014.

In 2019, synthetic turf pitches in Germany became the topic of discussion in Germany, when a Fraunhofer Institut study on microplastics highlighted the dangers of rubber granulate being released into the environment. Since then, the Fraunhofer Institut has acknowledged that the figures published were too high. Figures from other institutions, such as the quality association RAL [10] and DIN, show approximately one-tenth of the levels published by Fraunhofer. Rubber granulate, which is applied to the pitch as an infill, improves playing properties and provides protection from injury, thanks to its elasticity. Due to its size of three to five millimetres, it is formally classed as microplastic, although in its present form it consists of 70 per cent natural materials and 30 per cent synthetic rubber.

ECHA, the European Chemicals Agency, is currently investigating the environmental impact of the application of microplastics, with a recommendation on how to proceed expected during 2020. In 2021, the EU Commission will decide on a possible ban on the synthetic application of microplastics, which would also affect other industrial sectors, such as cosmetics, agriculture and construction.

Business areas[edit]

Synthetic turf systems[edit]

Synthetic turf systems are comparatively complex systems that can be configured from a large number of different components for the respective application. They usually consist of an elastic layer (rubber granules and a polyurethane binder), the actual synthetic turf (consisting of back and turf fibres known as filaments) and special infill granules (sand and/or rubber), which give rigidity to the turf. Alternative fillers such as cork may also be utilised. Different materials, textures and, in some cases, patented technologies are used, depending on the sport and requirements.[11]

In recent years, Polytan has been using renewable raw materials (such as hemp) in its production. Polytan’s Liga Turf Cross Gtzero, the world's first CO₂-neutral synthetic turf, is produced from renewable raw materials and based on waste products from processed sugar cane.

Synthetic sports surfaces[edit]

In the area of synthetic surfaces, Polytan uses a system design in which different components are adapted to the respective purpose in a solid structure, or as part of multi-layer process. A distinction is made here between solid, single-layer synthetic surfaces and multi-layer structures, in which a wear coat of rubber granules is applied to a base layer of rubber granulate and polyurethane binders. Depending on the intended use, different systems are configured with different sports’ functional properties, both outdoors and indoors. The company also offers synthetic surfaces that are tested in accordance with the requirements of World Athletics (WA) and thus certified for international competitions.[12]

Shock-absorbent surfaces[edit]

In addition to synthetic turf systems and classic synthetic sports surfaces, Polytan also manufactures special shock-absorbent surfaces, usually a variant of sports synthetic surfaces, for use in playgrounds and kindergartens. Polytan has also offered special shock-absorbent systems with a synthetic turf surface since 2015.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Polytan synthetic turf systems".
  2. ^ "Polytan history".
  3. ^ "Volker Poley: The synthetic turf pitch in Duisburg is almost unique in Germany. 9 June 2020,accessed on 10 June 2020 (German)".
  4. ^ "Polytan full catalogue no. 12, 2015, p. 5".
  5. ^ "ibid".
  6. ^ "ibid".
  7. ^ "Polytan full catalogue no. 12, 2015, p. 6".
  8. ^ "ibid".
  9. ^ "Polytan full catalogue no. 12, 2015, p. 7".
  10. ^ "Opinion of RAL Gütegemeinschaft Microplastics in synthetic turf. Accessed on 10 June 2020 (German)".
  11. ^ "ibid. p. 32, ff".
  12. ^ "Polytan full catalogue no. 12, 2015, p. 58".